An Average Joe Finally Makes it to the Big Time

By George WhiteMarch 5, 2001, 5:00 pm
You would have sworn he was the same guy who tried to sell you an insurance policy just last week. Well, okay, at least he could pass as the guy you knew who shoved around boxes at the warehouse 10 years ago.
The truth is, Joe Durant used to be both of those. He sold insurance for a couple of weeks in 1990. Well, 'sold' is much too strong a word. The health-and-life racket was too much for his reserved personality. He wasn't even about to get into property, which takes considerably more time to master.
And you might have even seen him around the Edwin Watts golf warehouse in 1992 if you happened to be in Fort Walton Beach, Fl. He did that, too, for about three months. He was dutifully learning the trade from the bottom up, hoping to get to the next step, selling merchandise inside a store.
Somehow, though, Durant never really committed himself to these noble professions. His mind kept wandering back to the golf course, where he swatted the drives and putted the putts . where he was THE show, not just someone who keeps the show up and going.
Today, it has paid off. With the ever-present encouragement of his wife Tracey - some would call it old-fashioned nagging - he stuck it out until finally, at the age of 36, he made it. He is the only player on the PGA Tour who has won twice in 2001, and he won in back-to-back outings at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and the Genuity Championship, otherwise known simply as 'the Doral.'
Just one year ago, it didn't seem like such a good move. Maybe he should have stuck with Edwin Watts. His personality didn't really mesh with being a good insurance salesman, but maybe Tracey didn't really know what she was talking about. Maybe he should have gone into something else and left the stinking golf clubs to themselves.
'I got off to a horrible start last year,' he said. 'I was 0-for-5 on the West Coast. I didn't play Doral last year, but flying down to the Honda, I lost my clubs. The beginning of last year was pretty ugly.
'But then, I think, losing my clubs was almost a blessing in disguise, because at that point I was like, 'What else can possibly happen?''
Sounds like Durant wouldn't complain if he lost his job. Hey, it saves the gas you would use going to and from work, and you certainly could use the extra sleep. Which is roughly the idea Joe had when it came time to think about how he was going to make a living for the family.
Enter Tracey again.
'When I decided I was going to play golf again (some would say he never really decided to quit) which was probably around this time of 1992, she just said, 'Hey, if you are going to play again' - we had talked about it - she said, 'If you are going to play again, you are going to have to improve your attitude.'
'She just basically put the hammer down and said, 'Hey, this how it is going to be,' which was a good thing. I welcomed it, trust me; after the way I played before, I needed it. I needed it bad.'
So Durant banged around in the next few years, plugging along on the Buy.Com Tour and occasionally on the big tour. He even played the Masters in 1998, though he was - typically - hurt when he did it. He had the redoubtable Tracey to thank for this one, too. He had broken a rib throwing around her bag at Pebble Beach. That's one heck of a way to play in the Masters, but for Durant, it was certainly par for the course.
So, at the age of 36, almost 37, Joe is an overnight sensation. And it is a little surprising if you don't know him. Well - it's surprising even if you DO know him.
'I have not always been the quickest product when it came to things,' he said by way of explanation. 'I am happy just to be playing well.
'Who knows what the rest of the year is going to hold? I don't know. I could go out and go 0-for-the-rest-of-the-year. I am just going to try to keep playing the best I can, but it is nice to be playing well. It has been a long time coming.'
And does Durant ever get back to Fort Walton Beach, just for old times sake, just to schlep a few cartons, toss around a few cardboard boxes?
'No,' he says, and the laughter comes easily. 'I haven't been back there since - no.'
He hasn't been back there just to reminisce? It is very close to Pensacola, his home, you know. 'Yeah - lift a box or two,' he says, laughing.
'I am sure I would have to practice to learn how to do it again.'
If he wanted to do it, though, sure he would practice. He would do it. And if he slacked off - Tracey would make sure he did it.
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PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

Goodbye and good riddance.

The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

“What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.


The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.

Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

But at what cost?

The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

“What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

Amen again.

We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

This is good governance.

And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.


We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.